The Chilean Development Organisation CORFO has selected Enel Green Power (EGP) and DCNS to establish an International Centre of Excellence (ICE) on Marine Energy in the country.
The 8-year project is supported by around $20 million in cash and in-kind funding, 65 percent of which will be provided by CORFO itself. The project aims to establish a facility that will carry out research and development activities on Marine Renewable Energy (MER) technologies, taking into account the specific natural conditions of the Pacific Ocean along the coastline of Chile.
Additional support will be provided by the Chilean development organisation Fundación Chile, the R&D foundation INRIA Chile, research institutions Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad Austral de Chile, as well as Enel Group subsidiaries Chilectra and Endesa Chile.
When completed, the new Marine Energy Research and Innovation Centre (MERIC), will serve as a hub for innovation in marine energy in Chile and around the world.
“We are very pleased to be part of this venture alongside the Chilean government as well as our industrial partner DCNS” said Salvatore Bernabei, General Manager for Chile and Andean Region at Enel Green Power. “Marine energy is one of the most important frontiers in the renewable sector and innovation is key to unlock potential of this renewable energy source. MERIC, thanks to the support of all its Chilean partners, will revolutionize the way we produce energy from the oceans in Chile and at global level.”
Thierry Kalanquin, Senior Vice President Energies & Marine Infrastructure at DCNS, added that Chile has tremendous potential and can become the global laboratory for marine energy on the Pacific coast. He said that the creation of MERIC will help to fulfil that objective and that the facility could become an international centre for adaptation and qualification of marine energy technologies.
EGP will contribute to MERIC by highlighting the most important factors in the installation, operation and maintenance of marine power plants in order to secure safe, sustainable and profitable projects. DCNS will bring its major technical expertise in tidal, wave, offshore wind and thermal energy conversion as well as valuable experience in naval and marine industrial project management and methodology. The Centre will gather researchers to support work related to marine resource assessment, site characterization, bio-fouling, bio-corrosion, environmental and social impact, and technology adaptation to extreme ocean conditions.
The experts will also begin developing tools to test and adapt MRE technologies to the country’s unique natural conditions (seismic activity, rugged coastline, a particularly rich and diverse array of marine flora and fauna). MERIC will implement an innovative, integrated approach to R&D in the sector, which includes the installation of an experimental wave energy converter to serve as a “validation test bench” allowing comparison of theoretical results with real world data.
From 2019 onwards, MERIC is expected to have a consolidated infrastructure and experience which would allow it to provide services to local and international industry who wish to test MRE technologies in the Chilean marine environment.